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Joe McEvoy, Director of Innovation and Digital

I was genuinely excited to join The Priory and am grateful for the welcome I have received in my first six months of becoming Director of Innovation and Digital for Priory Healthcare.

I started my career in mental health over 30 years ago as a Healthcare Assistant before training as a nurse and a therapist. For the past 15 years I have worked in various roles across providers, commissioning organisations and arm’s length bodies. Most recently I was working for NHS England (specialised commissioning) as Regional Director for Mental Health in the South of England, as well as National Programme Lead for Transforming Care.

In really simple terms, the implementation of digital initiatives at Priory aims to help transform the way in which clinical and support staff use technology and digital platforms, in order to improve patient care and experience, reduce workload for staff, and release time to care whilst improving patient safety. However, it has been important to acknowledge that adoption of new digital technologies within healthcare is highly dependent on mobilising clinical and managerial support and also ensuring that we only invest in digital solutions that absolutely meet our requirements.

Right now, we are working to implement a few initiatives that will help us ‘cut our digital teeth’ and build some organisational confidence. We have launched an alumni app (Thrive) for all private inpatients. This provides mood monitoring, guided exercises and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) post discharge. In addition, we have commissioned ‘Doctify’ which offers patient experience ratings for our wellbeing centres and private hospitals, enabling us to promote feedback and respond to themes, in order to continuously improve experiences for people using our services. You can see these reviews now embedded in our website pages.

We are also now trialling ‘Skype’ within four wellbeing centres for patients in therapy, which aims to promote greater choice and flexibility of treatment, for both patients and staff. We are shortly going to extend this to consultants who wish to use it for assessment. At the end of August, we will review the experience of therapists and patients and build a case to extend further, including an option for staff to work flexibly at home.

You may have also heard that I am leading the ‘Medical Secretaries Project’ which is in the very early stages, with the intention to improve the offer to consultants and patients. We want to work with our teams to re-design our processes, to deliver a chronological approach to workload management and greater compliance with Care Notes and Salesforce, whilst preserving the important patient relationship management that our teams provide. Setting ourselves clear standards for the timeliness of letters, etc. is critical to providing all stakeholders with a good experience. We will also look to adopt effective dictation technology to support this.

An area we intend to focus on in the near future is in regards to how we equip ward staff with mobile technology to help reduce the amount of paperwork they have to do, which in turn will release greater time to care.

We would also like to eliminate repetition of tasks by supporting ward rounds and care programme approach (CPA) processes with systems that can be updated contemporaneously and only once. As mentioned earlier, this could include providing Skype to help reduce the travel burden of some staff or provide greater convenience to patients where this is appropriate.

Finally, we are also in early discussions to explore the use of a remote video platform specifically designed and tested with clinicians that not only provides videos, but records treatment sessions, transcribes the conversation and automatically generates summary reports. This has the potential to both revolutionise the experience of remote therapy for patients and clinicians and attract new opportunities nationally and internationally.

I am extremely interested in your views for future improvement so please get in touch if you have any feedback or suggestions. I look forward to working with you and would be very happy to hear from you.

Joe McEvoy

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